LSM Newswire

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NAC Orchestra celebrates its 40th birthday with first-ever performance of Mahler’s “Titan” Symphony led by Pinchas Zukerman on Oct. 8-9

Ottawa, Canada – The National Arts Centre Orchestra is turning 40 years old, and to celebrate the occasion, Music Director Pinchas Zukerman will lead the musicians in their first-ever performance Mahler’s mighty “Titan” Symphony No. 1 in Bostonian Bravo Series concerts on Thursday, October 8 and Friday, October 9 at 8 p.m. in Southam Hall.

The special occasion will also be marked by two works from the NAC Orchestra’s four-decade history. Pinchas Zukerman, also one of the world’s most celebrated violinists, will perform Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor, a piece first performed by the Orchestra in 1971 with Szymon Goldberg as both conductor and violin soloist. Maestro Zukerman will also lead stellar Canadian baritone Russell Braun (who has been a guest artist with the NAC Orchestra since 1994) in Songs for an Acrobat, a work commissioned from Canadian Linda Bouchard in 1995 during the period when she was the Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence. The music is set to poems by Quebec writer Maurice Tourigny, a close friend of Bouchard. The NAC Orchestra’s Marquis Classics recording of the work was nominated for a Juno Award. The NAC Orchestra will also perform Songs for an Acrobat at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto later this season on January 16, 2010.

There will be Musically Speaking pre-concert chats both nights at 7 p.m. with music critic Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer. On Thursday, October 8 he will present the talk in English titled “The Beginning and Ending of a World”, and on Friday, October 9 he will present it in French titled “Début et fin d’un monde”.

Mahler’s First Symphony is one of the most original and innovative in music history. With the sole exception of Brahms, and possibly Sibelius, there is probably no other composer than Gustav Mahler whose First Symphony represents such a towering achievement. Among the innovations one can point to are the largest assemblage of orchestral musicians hitherto required in a symphony, and the incorporation of café, pop and gypsy music. And nowhere else are the sounds of nature so pervasively and integrally bound up with the symphonic thought than in the first movement of this symphony. Other things to listen for are the unusual rendition of “Frère Jacques” played by the double bass, and a finale in which seven horns – their bells turned up – proclaim the heroic ending.

The expanded NAC Orchestra for Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 “Titan” is made possible by the Friends of the NAC Orchestra Kilpatrick Fund. The late William Kilpatrick was a longtime NAC subscriber who bequeathed funds to NACOA (now called Friends of the NAC Orchestra), the revenue from which is given to the Orchestra each year to help present a work that requires larger instrumental forces. The Friends of the NAC Orchestra are also celebrating their 40th birthday at this time.

The orchestral forces are also supplemented for this concert by the apprentices of the Institute for Orchestral Studies – five young string players chosen by audition to join the NAC Orchestra in rehearsal and concert, and to receive mentorship from NAC Orchestra musicians, on five different occasions throughout the season.

The concerts are being recorded by CBC Radio 2 for future broadcast on In Concert with host Bill Richardson, on Tempo with host Julie Nesrallah, and for Radio-Canada Espace Musique on Soirée classiques hosted by Michel Keable. Bill Richardson will also host an intermission interview with composer Linda Bouchard and baritone Russell Braun in the Main Foyer.

After the opening concert on Thursday, October 8, the audience is invited to join the musicians in the Foyer for birthday cake and coffee courtesy of Bostonian Executive Suites and Mark Motors Audi.

These concerts also mark the first of this season’s “Exploration of the Symphony” podcast series. You can go online to the NAC’s website at to hear assistant principal double bass Marjolaine Fournier interview music critic Jean-Jacques Van Vlasselaer about Mahler’s “Titan” Symphony in separate English and French versions.

Tickets for the NAC Orchestra’s 40th birthday concerts on October 8 and 9 in the NAC’s Southam Hall at 8 p.m. are on sale now at $19, $29, $39.50, $50, $60, $70 and $87.50 at the newly renovated NAC Box Office (Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and through Ticketmaster (with surcharges) at 613-755-1111. Ticketmaster may also be accessed through the NAC’s website at

Half-price tickets for students in all sections of the hall are on sale in person at the NAC Box Office upon presentation of a valid student ID card. Live Rush tickets (subject to availability) for full-time students (aged 13 to 29) are $11 at the NAC Box Office from 2 p.m. the day before the concert to 6 p.m. the day of, upon presentation of a valid Live Rush card.

Groups of 10 and more save 15% to 20% off the regular price of tickets to NAC Music, Theatre and Dance performances. To reserve your seats call 613-947-7000 ext. 384 or email

Listen to more than 150 NAC Orchestra performances - FREE! - visit

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Mahler's Monumental Sixth Symphony

In the final Masterworks Gold concert of the Symphony Season, Maestro Bramwell Tovey leads the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in Schubert’s beautiful Ballet Music from Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus and Mahler’s monumental masterpiece Symphony No. 6. Concerts take place on Saturday, June 6th and Monday, June 8th at 8pm at the Orpheum Theatre.

Franz Schubert composed the incidental music for Rosamunde, Princess of Cypress, a play by the eccentric German playwright Helmina von Chézy, in 1823. The score includes an overture, entr’actes, ballet music, choruses, and a romance for soprano. The play was so bad that it was pulled from production after two performances, and only the vocal numbers were published during Schubert’s lifetime. The orchestral selections dropped from sight until 1867, when English musicians Sir Arthur Sullivan and Sir George Grove made a pilgrimage to Vienna, specifically in search of forgotten nuggets of Schubertiana. We have them to thank for this enchanting music’s survival and its entry into the repertoire.

Gustav Mahler began his Sixth Symphony during the summer of 1903, completing it a year later. This was one of the most idyllic periods of his life: his fame as a conductor reached its apex; regular and well-received performances of his music were taking place across Europe; and the companionship of his wife Alma and their two daughters was giving him great joy. Yet the music he was writing represents an enormous gulf between reality and his creative world. Symphony No. 6 is a sombre, even tragic work. It turned out to be a disturbingly prophetic one, as well.

Regarding the Symphony, Alma Mahler wrote in her memoirs, “In the last movement he describes himself and his downfall; or, as he later said: ‘It is the hero, on whom falls three blows of fate, the last of which fells him as a tree is felled.’ On him too fell three blows of fate, and the last felled him.” This refers to the events of 1907: the death of their older daughter Maria of diphtheria and smallpox, aged four-and-a-half; Mahler’s being driven from his job as Music Director of the Vienna State Opera; and the diagnosis of his life-threatening case of heart disease. To represent these “blows of fate,” Mahler included a hammer in the orchestration of the Sixth Symphony’s finale. The sound he wanted from it wasn’t clangourous and steely, but a non-metallic thud, “like an axe stroke.”

“But at the time he was serene; he was conscious of the greatness of his work,” Alma continued. “None of his works came as directly from his innermost heart as this one. The music and what it foretold touched us so deeply.” The first performance took place on May 27, 1906, in Essen, under the composer’s direction. According to Alma, “Out of shame and anxiety he did not conduct the symphony well. He hesitated to bring out the dark omen behind this terrible last movement.”

Mahler later made changes to the symphony’s orchestration, the most important of them the deletion of the last of the three hammer blows. He superstitiously feared it might hasten the arrival of the disaster that it predicted for him. He also harbored some uncertainty about the sequence of the inner movements. On every occasion that he conducted it, the sequence was Andante first, followed by the Scherzo. The symphony was published with that order reversed, but Mahler didn’t authorize this. The critical edition of his complete works that is sanctioned by the International Gustav Mahler Society uses the Andante/Scherzo sequence.

Mahler gave the Sixth Symphony the subtitle Tragic. In overall terms it is an appropriate designation. Yet it is only in the Finale that the work’s catastrophic nature becomes clear. The opening movement contrasts a menacing, march-like subject with a passionate second melody. Alma recalled, “After he had drafted the first movement, he came down from the forest to tell me he had tried to express me a theme. “Whether I’ve succeeded I don’t know; but you’ll have to put up with it.’ This is the great, soaring theme of the first movement of the Sixth Symphony.” In the middle comes a peaceful interlude, atmospherically coloured with the sound of cowbells (Mahler may have included them as a recollection of his happy youth in central Europe. They will be heard again in the Andante and Finale). The “Alma” theme crowns the movement triumphantly.

The slow movement is a serene, gorgeously melodious lullaby. The climax, in contrast, is a searing outpouring of emotion. “In the Scherzo, he represented the un-rhythmic games of the two children, tottering in zigzags over the sand,” Alma wrote. “Ominously the childish voices become more and more tragic, and at the end die out in a whimper.” This is one of the bitterest and most bizarrely scored scherzos in any Mahler symphony.

The colossal, overwhelming Finale opens with an eerie, unsettling introduction in slow tempo. The movement proper is restless and striving. It consists of a series of waves of vigorous activity, each of which is crowned catastrophically by one of the hammer blows of fate. There is no recovery from the third and final climax. The music, its tragic destiny fulfilled, subsides into utter darkness.


Masterworks Gold Series:

Classical Blockbuster: Mahler’s Titanic

Saturday & Monday, June 6 & 8, 8pm, Orpheum Theatre

Bramwell Tovey, conductor

Tickets $25 to $78.50 (Student, Senior and Subscriber discounts available)

Tickets available by phone at 604.876.3434 or online at

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Monday, October 27, 2008

OSM / November at the OSM

HYDRO QC_nb noir

November at the OSM


former music director of the OSM, conducts three concerts


in Strauss's breathtaking Burleske

After a triumphant European tour,


The Beethoven cycle continues


OSM Standard Life Competition: voice, woodwinds and brass

Children's Corner

Montreal, October 15, 2008 – Former OSM music director (1961 to 1967) Franz-Paul Decker will be revisiting the musicians of the Orchestra when he leads a program devoted exclusively to the works of Richard Strauss on November 4 and 6. These concerts will feature pianist Marc-André Hamelin, a special collaborator of the OSM for 20 years, in the highly virtuoso Burleske, a concerto work rarely performed.

On November 11 and 12, Maestro Decker will conduct well-known works by Johann Strauss father and son along with other great Viennese classics, resuming a much appreciated tradition of evenings dedicated to Viennese music.

The first shows in the Children's Corner series will take place on November 9 at 1:30 p.m. for the French-language version and at 3:30 p.m. for the bilingual version. Québec actor Patrice Dubois, in the role of Octavio, will interact with OSM conductor in residence Jean-François Rivest, playing the captain. Soprano Kyra Folk-Farber as well as a chorus and musicians from Joseph-François Perrault High School will join the OSM for these exciting shows.

The celebrated contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, who is enjoying an extremely active international career, will be singing Mahler's Rückert-Lieder on November 16, Mahler being a composer with whom she has often been associated. Also on the program: Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and Escenas de pájaros, the work with which Barcelona composer Ramon Humet won the International Olivier Messiaen Prize at the OSM's 2007 composition competition as well as the 24th Queen Sofia Composition Prize in 2006.

On November 26 and 27, OSM music director Kent Nagano will lead the Orchestra and Austrian pianist Till Fellner in Beethoven's sublime Concerto No. 4.

Finally, the stages and activities of the 69th edition of the OSM Standard Life Competition, dedicated to voice, woodwinds and brass, are open to the public free of charge and will take place from November 26 to 30.

Information and reservations: 514 842-9951 or


November 4 and 6 at 8 p.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Grand Concerts: Decker and Strauss – a historic meeting. Franz-Paul Decker, conductor; Marc-André Hamelin, pianist.

November 9 at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. (Théâtre Maisonneuve) Children's Corner: Adventure at sea, The further travels of Octavio. Jean-François Rivest, conductor; Marie-Lou Dion, scriptwriter and director; Patrice Dubois, actor; Kyra Folk-Farber, soprano. At 1:00 and at 3:00 p.m.: meeting with musicians from Joseph-François Perrault High School.

November 11 at 8 p.m.(Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Air Canada Classical Escapes: Viennese Evening. Franz-Paul Decker, conductor; Ulrike Steinsky, soprano; Alois Haselbacher, tenor. At 7 p.m.: pre-concert discussion: Jean-François Rivest, OSM conductor in residence, presents the concert program.

November 12 at 10:30 a.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Symphonic Matinees: Viennese Evening. Franz-Paul Decker, conductor; Ulrike Steinsky, soprano; Alois Haselbacher, tenor.

November 16 at 2:30 p.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Musical Sundays: Marie-Nicole Lemieux Sings Mahler. Roberto Minczuk, conductor; Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto.

November 26 and 27 at 8 p.m.(Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Grand Concerts: Till Fellner and Beethoven's Fourth. Kent Nagano, conductor; Till Fellner, pianist.

November 26 to 29 (Tanna Schulich Hall, Schulich School of Music, McGill University) Semi-finals, finals and master classes of the OSM Standard Life Competition.

November 30 at 7 p.m. (Redpath Hall, McGill University) OSM Standard Life Competition chamber-music concert. Alain Trudel, trombone; Jens Lindemann, trumpet; James Campbell, clarinet; Andrew Wan, concertmaster with the OSM and Grand Prize winner at the OSM Standard Life Competition, 2007 edition.

Information on the month's concerts:

Grand Concerts:

Decker and Strauss: a historic meeting

Devoted exclusively to Richard Strauss, this concert includes the suite of waltzes for orchestra from Der Rosenkavalier, an evocation of imperial Vienna from his famous opera, as well as the Symphonia Domestica, an autobiographical work in which the composer sets to music the characters of his wife and son as well as himself. In four linked movements, the work abounds in motifs, some 40 of them, interwoven by Strauss in a masterful way.

German conductor Franz-Paul Decker has been a fervent champion of the works of his compatriot Richard Strauss, whom he had the honour of meeting in his youth. Music director of the OSM from 1967 to 1975, he took the Orchestra to new heights – and new horizons, to among other places the Osaka World's Fair in 1970, the first of numerous trips the Orchestra would take to Japan.

The musicality and virtuosity of Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin have earned him legendary status as a piano master. Long renowned for his explorations of unfamiliar works, he is now recognized around the world for his dazzling technique and the originality of his interpretations of the classical repertoire. "For 20 years now," the pianist has said, "I've had the privilege of collaborating regularly with the OSM, which always gives me great pleasure. Furthermore, it seems to me that each time the pleasure only increases, and with the OSM, I always feel as though I'm at home." He will play Burleske, a work of formidable technical difficulty, considered unperformable by Strauss's contemporary the pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow.

Grand Concerts

November 4 and 6 at 8 p.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Franz-Paul Decker, conductor

Marc-André Hamelin, pianist

Richard Strauss Symphonia Domestica

Richard Strauss Burleske

Richard Strauss Suite from Der Rosenkavalier

Tickets from $24.75

Information and reservations: 514 842-9951 or

Children's Corner:

Adventure at sea, The further travels of Octavio

Children and their parents are invited aboard the great musical vessel of the OSM, skillfully captained by Jean-François Rivest. In the traces of the indefatigable voyager Octavio, this time acting as navigator, they will sail the seas with the best crew of musicians going! On the program: all the world's oceans, famous ships, tropical fish, marine monsters, whales, sirens and pirates… A thrilling adventure by way of great works of the symphonic repertoire, original compositions and movie music.

Taking part in a show scripted and directed by Marie-Lou Dion are actor Patrice Dubois (interacting with the conductor), soprano Kyra Folk-Farber, the OSM and a girls chorus as well as musicians from Joseph-François Perrault High School, everyone under the direction of OSM conductor in residence Jean-François Rivest.

Before the shows, in the Théâtre Maisonneuve lobbies, the audience is invited to meet some of the young students from the Joseph-François Perrault school, who will be presenting the instruments they play.

Following the success of The Enchanted Orchestra (a concert in the 2005 Children's Corner series nominated for "Best young-audience concert" at the Prix Opus) and A Trip Around the World (a concert in the OSM Youth Concerts and Children's Corner presented in 2007), Marie-Lou Dion is back to offer the OSM's young audience a new script, one that she is directing as well. Ms. Dion, who at one point was known mostly as an actress on the small screen, has devoted more of her time over the past 10 years or so to directing, writing for the stage and teaching acting.

Since he left theatre school in Saint-Hyacinthe in 1993, Patrice Dubois has been seen in about 20 stage works in various theatres in Québec, and in 2007 he became artistic co-director at Théâtre PÀP. On television he has played a number of roles in some 15 series. For more than five years he played the character Victor Dubé in Les Poupées russes. He also appears on the series Les Sœurs Elliott. Patrice Dubois has additionally been involved in the dubbing of about 100 films, of cartoon and of television series.

Canadian soprano Kyra Folk-Farber has appeared at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, Jordan Hall in Boston, the Concertgebouw and the Ignatius Huis in Amsterdam and at the Snape Maltings Hall in England. She completed her bachelor's degree in vocal performance at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music, where she studied with Edward Zambara. She is currently doing doctoral studies in voice at the Université de Montréal with Rosemarie Landry and Catherine Sévigny.

Children's Corner

November 9 at 1:30 p.m.: French-language show

November 9 at 3:30 p.m.: bilingual show

November 9 at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.: get-together with musicians

Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts

Jean-François Rivest, conductor

Marie-Lou Dion, scriptwriter and director

Patrice Dubois, actor

Kyra Folk-Farber, soprano

Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

Girls choir from Joseph-François Perrault High School

Musicians from Joseph-François Perrault High School

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov The Sea and Sindbad's Ship, from Scheherazade, symphonic suite, Opus 35 (excerpt)

Richard Strauss Also sprach Zarathoustra, symphonic poem, Opus 30 (excerpt)

Benjamain Britten Moonlight, Four Sea Interludes, from the opera Peter Grimes (excerpt)

Claude Debussy Jeux de vagues, from La Mer (excerpt)

Patrick Sobczak À l'abordage, OSM commission

Claude Debussy Sirènes, from Nocturne (excerpt)

Jean Sibelius Tapiola, symphonic poem, Opus 112 (excerpt)

Dimitri Shostakovich Symphony No. 8 in C minor, Opus 65, "Adagio" (excerpt)

Bedrich Smetana The Moldau, from the symphonic cycle Má Vlast (excerpt)

Claude Vivier Lonely Child (excerpt)

Bruno Coulais Caresse sur l'océan, from the soundtrack to the movie Les Choristes (excerpt)

John Williams Prologue, from the soundtrack to the movie Hook (excerpt)

Individual tickets:

Children: $13.75

Adults: $27.50

Information and reservations: 514 842-9951 or

Air Canada Classical Escapes:

Viennese Evening

(this program is reprised in the Symphonic Matinees series)

Vienna stirs up romantic images of fairy tales with sparkling chandeliers, dazzling ballrooms and beautiful elegant women, in an atmosphere of infectious gaiety and excitement. Vienna is also the city par excellence for music.

The Viennese evenings were among the most loved and best attended when Franz-Paul Decker was music director of the OSM. For a rare occasion the conductor revisits that universe and invites us to an evening of waltzes, polkas, marches and operetta arias. Musical tipsiness and surprises are in store.

At 7 p.m., at a pre-concert discussion, Jean-François Rivest, the OSM's conductor in residence, will present the concert program.

Air Canada Classical Escapes

November 11 at 8 p.m.

Symphonic Matinees

November 12 at 10:30 a.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Franz-Paul Decker, conductor

Ulrike Steinsky, soprano

Alois Haselbacher, tenor

Johann Strauss II Tritsch-Tratsch Polka

Johann Strauss II Furioso Polka

Johann Strauss II On the Beautiful Blue Danube

Johann Strauss I Radetzky March

and other Viennese classics

Tickets from $24.75

Information and reservations: 514 842-9951 or

Musical Sundays:

Marie-Nicole Lemieux sings Mahler

Marie-Nicole Lemieux is known for her dark, voluptuous voice, an ideal vehicle for the romantic vocal music of Gustav Mahler inspired by texts by the German poet and Orientalist Friedrich Rückert. Mahler composted four of the five songs while staying at Villa Mahler in the summer of 1901. The last song is a poem that Mahler set to music in July 1902 for his wife, Alma Mahler. That evening in her diary she noted: "It almost made me cry. What profundity there is in such a man! And how I am lacking in soul! I am often made aware of just how little I am and how little I possess in comparison with his incommensurable wealth!" At its première, Mahler enjoyed one of his great successes. Wrote Paul Stefan: "We exulted with [Mahler], we shared, successively, his affliction, his childish moods, joyful or dreamy. We took pleasure in marveling at his knowledge and at his mastery of the small forms, as though at a magnificent flowering of beautiful poems."

The program begins with Escenas de pájaros by Ramon Humet, an orchestral synthesis of birdsongs that earned its author the International Olivier Messiaen grand prize at the OSM's 2007 composition competition and the 24th Queen Sofia Composition Prize in 2006. In the second part we will hear Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, the final movement of which is one of the most sensational and most thrilling in the repertoire. "Never before had one of my orchestral works cost me so much difficullty," wrote Tchaikovsky, "but neither have I ever felt so much love for any of my compositions.

This much anticipated concert will be under the direction of Brazilian conductor Roberto Minczuk, a protégé of Kurt Masur, who is music director of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and artistic director of the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira in Rio de Janeiro.

Musical Sundays

November 16 at 2:30 p.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Roberto Minczuk, conductor

Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto

Ramon Humet Escenas de pájaros

Gustav Mahler Rückert-Lieder

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4

Tickets from $24.75

Information and reservations: 514 842-9951 or

Grand Concerts:

Till Fellner and Beethoven's Fourth

Alfred Brendel evoked the intelligence, the sensitivity, the curiosity and the vast esthetic appetite of his disciple Till Fellner, born in Vienna in 1972, winner of the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in 1993 and one of the most interesting younger pianists on the international scene. He will be performing, under the direction of Kent Nagano, Beethoven's Fourth Concerto, a masterwork of the concerto literature devoid of all formal constraints and overflowing with lyricism and poetry. The piano seems to be in a perpetual state of grace and of improvisation here, supported by an orchestra of great richness. This concerto will appear on an upcoming recording by the OSM.

Kent Nagano will also conduct Béla Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin, a forebear of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring in its orchestration and rhythms, and two Nocturnes by Claude Debussy, both the Bartók and Debussy having been recorded by the OSM, the second honoured with a Juno Award in 1991. "The title Nocturnes is to be interpreted here in a general and, more particularly, in a decorative sense," noted Debussy. "Therefore, it is not meant to designate the usual form of the nocturne, but rather all the various impressions and the special effects of light that the word suggests."

Rounding off the program is Orchestral Theater 1: "Xun" by Tan Dun, author of the score to the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. "Theatrical and ritualistic," wrote Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times, "Tan Dun's music sculpts sound and transforms everything into a riveting experience that is hard to define but very easy to appreciate." In this work Tan Dun has written something that reflects his compositional concepts and his personal ideas. He evokes his childhood memories of shamanistic rituals and integrates them into the symphonic fabric. "Xun" is written for orchestra musicians and their voices.

Grand Concerts

November 26 and 27 at 8 p.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Kent Nagano, conductor

Till Fellner, pianist

Claude Debussy Nocturnes 1 and 2

Tan Dun Orchestral Theater 1: "Xun"

Béla Bartók Suite from The Miraculous Mandarin

Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4

Tickets from $24.75

Information and reservations: 514 842-9951 or

Non-series concerts:

OSM Standard Life Competition

and chamber-music concert

The 69th edition of the OSM Standard Life Competition, devoted to woodwinds, brass and voice, will take place from November 26 to 30, under the presidency of Mr. Jean Élie. We must point out the presence of two great ladies of the vocal arts on the jury: Madam Renata Scotto (judge for the finals, voice category), soprano and teacher at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Italy, and Madam Françoise Pollet (judge for the semi-finals and finals, voice category), soprano and teacher at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse in Lyon, France. Mr. Jean-Pierre Brossmann, former executive director of Théâtre du Châtelet, in Paris, as well as Maestro Kent Nagano, music director of the OSM, will join the jury for the finals. Mr. Welz Kauffman, president and CEO of Chicago's Ravinia Festival, will act as chairman of the jury. Master classes will be offered by oboist Louise Pellerin, trumpeter Jens Lindemann and by singers Françoise Pollet and Renata Scotto.

The Competition will conclude with a chamber-music concert on November 30 at 7 p.m., featuring trombonist Alain Trudel, trumpeter Jens Lindemann, clarinetist James Campbell and violinist Andrew Wan, concertmaster with the OSM and Grand Prize winner at the OSM Standard Life Competition, 2007 edition.

All Competition activities are free of charge and open to the public.

Title sponsor of the competition: Standard Life; principal partner: Espace musique; major partner: Schulich School of Music, McGill University.

Non-series concerts

November 26 to 29: OSM Standard Life Competition

Tanna Schulich Hall, Schulich Music School, McGill University

November 25, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: master class given by oboist Louise Pellerin

November 26, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: woodwinds semi-finals

November 26, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: master class given by trumpeter Jens Lindemann

November 26, 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.: master class given by soprano Françoise Pollet

November 27, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: brass semi-finals

November 28, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. voice semi-finals

November 28, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: master class given by soprano and director Renata Scotto

November 29, 9:30 a.m. to noon: woodwind finals

November 29, 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.: brass finals

November 29, 4:00 to 6:30 p.m.: voice finals

November 29, 9:00 to 10:30 p.m.: awarding of prizes

November 30 at 7 p.m.: gala chamber-music concert

Redpath Hall, McGill University

Alain Trudel, trombone

Jens Lindemann, trumpet

James Campbell, clarinet

Andrew Wan, OSM concertmaster

Grand Prize Winner at the OSM Standard Life Competition, 2007 edition

Free admission, open to the public

Information: 514 842-9951 or

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is presented by Hydro-Québec

in association with National Bank

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

OSM / A Majestic opening to the OSM 's 75th Season



Kent Nagano conducts Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand:

Dress rehearsal open to the public

Zubin Mehta at the Notre-Dame Basilica

Joshua Bell in Corigliano’s Red Violin Concerto

Gershwin, Bernstein, Benoit, and All That Jazz!

Montreal, August 28, 2008 – Under the banner of bringing people together in a spirit of festivity, the 75th season of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal begins with the grand-scale Symphony of a Thousand by Gustav Mahler under the direction of Kent Nagano on September 9 and 10. More than 400 artists will be performing this massive work, which in addition to the Orchestra’s musicians features two mixed choruses, a boys choir, a girls choir, eight soloists and an offstage contingent of brass. “Imagine that the universe bursts into song,” Mahler wrote. “We no longer hear human voices, but those of planets and suns that revolve.” The public is also invited to attend the dress rehearsal, which is taking place on September 8 at 7 p.m.

The following week, on September 17, Zubin Mehta, a music director emeritus of the OSM, rejoins the musicians and a Montreal audience in an exceptional non-series concert presented at the imposing Notre-Dame Basilica. This setting lends itself admirably to a French program, which in this case will consist of Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, a work with a powerful emotional charge by composer Olivier Messiaen – the 100th anniversary of whose birth is being observed in 2008 – and the luminous Symphony No 3 (“Organ”) by Camille Saint-Saëns, one of the flagship works of the French symphonic repertoire.

On September 29 and 30, the remarkable violinist Joshua Bell, recipient of a Grammy, will be performing the Montreal premiere of American composer John Corigliano’s The Red Violin Concerto, a work derived from his Oscar-winning soundtrack in 1999 to the film The Red Violin and which takes up some of the most memorable themes in the original score. This program will be under the direction of Jacques Lacombe, principal guest conductor with the OSM from 2002 to 2006.

Jazz musician David Benoit, meanwhile, is offering a tribute to jazz piano in a program that includes singers Ranee Lee and Michael Dozier, while flutists Timothy Hutchins and Carolyn Christie will be playing a concerto for two flutes by Telemann.

Information and reservations: 514-842-9951 or


September 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Grand Concerts / Opening Night: Kent Nagano and the Symphony of a Thousand open the OSM’s 75th season! Kent Nagano, conductor; Jennifer Wilson, Aline Kutan, Mihoko Fujimura, Susan Platts, Simon O’Neil, Sergei Leiferkus, Reinhard Hagen, the OSM Chorus.

Public dress rehearsal: September 8 at 7 p.m.

September 17 at 7:30 p.m. (Notre-Dame Basilica) Non-series concert: Zubin Mehta at the Notre-Dame Basilica. Zubin Mehta, conductor.

September 23 at 8 p.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Air Canada Classical Escapes: Gershwin, Bernstein, Benoit, and All That Jazz! Jean-François Rivest, conductor; David Benoit, piano; Michael Dozier, jazz singer; Ranee Lee, jazz singer.

September 24 at 10:30 a.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Symphonic Matinees: Beloved Tchaikovsky. Marc David, conductor; Timothy Hutchins, OSM principal flute; Carolyn Christie, OSM second flute.

September 30 and October 1 at 8 p.m. (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier) Grand Concerts: Joshua Bell and The Red Violin. Jacques Lacombe, conductor; Joshua Bell, violin.

Information on the month’s concerts:

Opening Night

Grand Concerts

Kent Nagano and the Symphony of a Thousand

open the OSM’s 75th season!

Mahler liked to say that a symphony “must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” His Eighth, known as the “Symphony of a Thousand” in recognition of the forces deployed at its premiere in 1910, was written by Mahler for two mixed choirs, a boys chorus, a girls chorus, eight soloist, an extra brass section stationed offstage and an enormous orchestra! From the moment of its premiere, which was attended by many celebrities, it enjoyed great success, which has not waned to this day.

The work is in two parts. The first consists of a setting of a medieval Latin hymn and is almost exclusively vocal, the hymn being sung primarily by the choruses. The second part is based on the closing scene of Goethe’s Faust and is sometimes considered, owing to the numerous interventions of the soloist singers, more cantata than symphony. The work’s gigantic finale is described by Mahler in these terms: “Try to imagine the whole universe beginning to ring and resound.”

The Symphony will be conducted by Kent Nagano, the OSM’s music director. An especially visionary composition, colossal and majestic and carrying a message of hope, it would be impossible to imagine a more appropriate work to launch the OSM’s 75th season. The same piece was used to mark the Orchestra’s 50th anniversary in 1984, when it was played at the Montreal Forum.

Grand Concerts

September 9 and 10 at 8:00 p.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts


Kent Nagano, conductor

Jennifer Wilson, Magna Peccatrix

Janice Chandler-Eteme, Una Poenitentium

Aline Kutan, Mater Gloriosa

Mihoko Fujimura, Mulier Samaritana

Susan Platts, Maria Aegyptiaca

Simon O’Neill, Doctor Marianus

Sergei Leiferkus, Pater Ecstaticus

Reinhard Hagen, Pater Profundus

OSM Chorus

Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand”

Tickets starting at $24.75

Information and reservations: 514-842-9951 or

Non-series concert:

Zubin Mehta at the Notre-Dame Basilica

The musicians of the OSM and the Montreal public will have the pleasure of a visit from Zubin Mehta, OSM music director from 1961 to 1967, for a concert that is part of the festivities surrounding the Orchestra’s 75th season. A conductor of stellar reputation, Zubin Mehta headed the New York Philharmonic from 1978 to 1991, was music director of the Bavarian State Opera from 1998 to 2006 and has been principal conductor at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino since 1985.

For this occasion he is conducting Olivier Messiaen’s Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, a work composed in 1964 as a commission from André Malraux, France’s Minister of Cultural Affairs at the time, to honour the dead of two world wars. “It was conceived to be played in a church,” the composer explained, “taking resonance for granted, as well as the ambience and even the echoing of sounds that can be had in such a setting.” A work on a grand scale, it builds on notions of sound-colour and space, colour expressing itself by way of atypical instrumentation (woodwinds, brass and metallic percussion), and space through the variety of registers and the treatment of resonance and silence.

Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”), meanwhile, is a classic of the French repertoire orchestral. It is dedicated to Franz Liszt, who wrote a great number of works for organ to affirm, in the evening of his life, his faith in God, something else he and Messiaen have in common. Saint-Saëns admirably blends the colours of the piano with those of the orchestra (as Messiaen would later do in his Turangalîlâ Symphony) and uses the organ in a register that is sometimes intimate and sometimes brilliant.

Non-series concert

September 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Notre-Dame Basilica

Zubin Mehta, conductor

Olivier Messiaen Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum

Camille Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3, “Organ”

Tickets starting at $22.50

Information and reservations: 514-842-9951 or

Sponsors: Air Canada and Fondation J.A. DeSève

Air Canada Classical Escapes:

Gershwin, Bernstein, Benoit, and All That Jazz!

A five-time Grammy nominee for his extraordinary contribution to contemporary jazz, David Benoit is one of the most acclaimed jazz pianists of the last few decades. Composer of the soundtracks for several films and television programs, including a number of “Peanuts” specials, he cites as musical influences Henry Mancini, John Berry, Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson. In a second segment he will be joined on stage by Michael Dozier, a jazz singer who was part of Corona Theatre’s “Esquire Show Bar – La Revue” this summer, and by Ranee Lee, one of the most popular jazz singers in Canada, in some of jazz’s most memorable standards.

Jean-François Rivest, OSM conductor in residence, will also be leading the Orchestra in the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein’s celebrated musical, and in excerpts from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, a groundbreaking synthesis of European orchestral techniques, American jazz and popular music.

Air Canada Classical Escapes

September 23 at 8 p.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Jean-François Rivest, conductor

David Benoit, piano

Michael Dozier, jazz singer

Ranee Lee, jazz singer

Leonard Bernstein West Side Story, Symphonic Dances

George Gershwin Porgy and Bess, excerpts

Works by Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, David Benoit.

Tickets starting at $24.75

Information and reservations: 514-842-9951 or

Sponsors: Air Canada and Fondation J.A. DeSève

Symphonic Matinees:

Beloved Tchaikovsky

Artistic director of the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil and principal conductor with the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, Marc David is much in demand as a guest conductor not only in Canada but in the U.S., Mexico and Europe as well. Here he leads the OSM in Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most popular in the literature. On the theme of destiny, the composer vacillates between “total submission” and his doubts, laments and reproaches of destiny. A single theme undergoes metamorphoses through the work’s four movements.

Timothy Hutchins and Carolyn Christie, OSM principal flute and second flute, respectively, will also be heard in this concert, in the Concerto for Two Flutes in E Minor by Georg Philipp Telemann, an especially prolific composer who was a contemporary of Bach’s. These lively pages offer a rare opportunity to hear a concerto written for two flutes.

Opening the program is the “symphonic fantasy” by Pierre Mercure, Kaléidoscope, which since its premiere in 1948 has become one of the most frequently performed Canadian compositions.

Symphonic Matinees

September 24 at 10:30 a.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Marc David, conductor

Timothy Hutchins, OSM principal flute

Carolyn Christie, OSM second flute

Pierre Mercure Kaléidoscope

Georg Philipp Telemann Concerto for Two Flutes in E Minor

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

Tickets starting at $24.75

Information and reservations: 514-842-9951 or

Sponsor: Imperial Oil Foundation

Grand Concerts:

Joshua Bell and The Red Violin

Violinist Joshua Bell, recipient of a Grammy and the coveted Avery Fisher Prize, hailed as much by critics as he is cheered by the public, revisits the OSM in John Corigliano’s The Red Violin Concerto. The work, in four movements, dedicated to the memory of the composer’s father, concertmaster with the New York Philharmonic for close to a quarter-century, is an extension of the music for the movie The Red Violin, which received an Academy Award for best original soundtrack in 1999. The composer first extracted a Chaconne from it, a concert piece that Joshua Bell has performed on disc, but he wanted to be able to offer the violin an impassioned and romantic concerto. The work was premiered by Joshua Bell and recorded by him last year with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This will be its first presentation in Montreal.

Jacques Lacombe, principal guest conductor with the OSM from 2002 to 2006, and whose career was honoured in 2005 by a Prix Opus for his achievements abroad, will also lead the OSM in Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, one of the most remarkable orchestral works of the 20th century. According to the composer himself, the five movements of the Concerto describe “a gradual transition from the severity of the first movement to a life-affirming finale.” Opening the program, Ramon Humet, winner of the Olivier Messiaen International prize at the first edition of the OSM’s International Composition Prize, offers us a premiere of his work Escenas de viento.

Grand Concerts

September 30 and October 1 at 8 p.m.

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts

Jacques Lacombe, conductor

Joshua Bell, violin

Ramon Humet Escenas de viento, world premiere, OSM commission

John Corigliano The Red Violin Concerto

Béla Bartók Concerto for Orchestra

Tickets starting at $24.75

Information and reservations: 514-842-9951 or

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal is presented by Hydro-Québec

in association with National Bank

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